The No. 9 UCSB baseball team (34-11) grinded out a 4-2 win over visiting Saint Mary’s (25-24) Tuesday night, scoring four unanswered runs to sweep the Gaels in the season series.
Solid outings from Gaucho pitchers JD Callahan and Alex Schrier were the story of the quiet midweek matchup in Santa Barbara.
JD Callahan (2-3) saw his best start of recent memory returning to the hill as the Gauchos’ Tuesday thrower and tossing 5.2 innings of work. He scattered two runs on six hits and struck out five.
In Callahan’s relief came Alex Schrier, who was equally, if not even more, impressive than his teammate. He tossed 3.1 innings of hitless, shutout ball with six strikeouts. He picked up his first career save and faced the minimum, allowing a walk but getting an out on Gael that was caught stealing.
Jason Willow was the sole Gaucho to see multiple hits going 2-for-3 with a run and a walk.
Christian Kirtley extended his on-base streak to 33 straight games with a single and Bryce Willits reached 31 straight games with a walk.
In a game that didn’t see a single base-hit RBI by the Gauchos, the home team had to manufacture runs time and time again scoring three on bases-loaded walks and a fourth on an RBI fielder’s choice.
Saint Mary’s managed to break through with a run in the first and a run in the fourth to take a 2-0 lead, but Callahan held strong in limiting the damage in those innings by stranding a pair of Gaels baserunners each time.
Down 2-0, the Gauchos made the most of the fifth inning posting a three-spot to take the lead. Willow and Kyle Johnson led off with walks, and Blake Klassen moved everyone up 90 feet with an infield single. Then it was Willits and the pinch-hitting Broc Mortensen drawing back-to-back walks to tie the game.
Oakley was next putting UCSB ahead with what would be the game-winning run, an RBI fielder’s choice that sent Klassen home.
Insurance came in the bottom of the seventh as Zander Darby, who earned his first career start at shortstop. He drew a bases-load walk to make it a 4-2 ball game.
Schrier entered in the top of the sixth with two outs but quickly got to take a seat as catcher Mason Eng caught a runner stealing to end the inning. When the righty emerged again in the seventh, he was nails, retiring the Gaels in order, then striking out the side in the eighth, and striking out two more in the ninth to earn the 10-out save.
The non-conference homestand continues this weekend as the Gauchos host Dixie State in a three-game series beginning at 5:30 p.m. Friday .
Daniel Moebus-Bowles writes about sports for UCSB.